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Archive for April, 2010

If ever there was a word like that. If not, well, I just created one. Maybe I should copyright it! What say?

Not exactly my comfort food, yet one of my most luxurious indulgences. Some of my best chocolate experiences have been really really memorable and they were indeed very sweet……

Theobroma Chocolate Lounge

Theobroma Chocolate Lounge – http://www.chocolatelounge.com.au/index.htm

Ram wanted to cheer me up and he took me to this place as a surprise. We went and tried out some exotic truffles and of course ordered a hot chocolate beverage. Out of their selection of truffles, I liked their Champagne truffles which were yummylicious. I ordered White Chocolate Hot Drink on that cold winter day. Ooh la la….What taste! And to top that, they serve this with a slow burner that keeps your drink warm till you finish. The whole experience gave the feeling of snuggling under a quilt cosily. And Theobroma’s white chocolate, made me want to have White Chocolate Milk more often. With the pretence of baking Peanut butter and White Chocolate cookies for my team, I bought a packet of White chocolate buttons. Shhh……don’t tell anyone….I put some in hot milk and enjoyed it, and kept indulging till it was over in less than 2 weeks. I enjoyed every last drop. It just so happened, I saw myself in the mirror just as I was finishing my last glass of chocolate milk, and saw that I had the funniest milk moustache ever. Just one of those memories that make you laugh just thinking about it.

The Macadamia Butter Toffee Crunch

Makana – www.makana.co.nz

A quaint little chocolaterie nestled in the bustling town of Kerikeri that makes sinfully delectable chocolates in all shapes and sizes. My best pick of the lot is their best seller Macadamia Butter Toffee Crunch. This is a medium sliced slab slathered with caramel butter toffee smothered with chopped Macadamia nuts. One bite leaves you craving for more. You have got to experience this to know what I am talking about. I found this treasure during one of my most memorable trips to Paihia.

Source - Telegraph UK

Chocciato –

Another holiday discovery, Chocciato was a surprise find. After an hour and half of gruelling Skiing lessons on Mount Ruapehu, my husband, sister and I trudged on slush, skid on thin ice and climbed up the small set of  steep wooden steps to reach the cozy warm Bar & Restaurant that had both indoor and outdoor seating areas.

We went up to the counter, and placed our order. All orders except mine were ready quite soon. I had ordered this hot drink I saw on the menu called ‘Chocciato’. Didn’t have a clue what it was and I daringly ordered it in the holiday spirit. After waiting for what seemed ages, we finally got our order and we made our way to the benches on the deck with a lovely view of the Mount and its beanie cloud. The air was freezing, my nose had turned pink in the cold air. I grabbed my cup, imagine a shot espresso porcelain cup with no handles filled with thick dark brown liquid, not exactly melted chocolate, but something like a thick chocolatee syrup and hot. I tested the warmth of the hot liquid, and took a tentative sip. Lo behold! The heat and the sweetness combined spread inside my mouth, the sweetness sliding down my throat, and I was under the onslaught of a thousand happy memories. ‘Sigh’!!! And I forgot I was alive. The sensation was so unreal. If you ever get a chance, don’t miss this one for sure.

Bam Bam Gooey

Bam Bam Gooey – http://www.bambamgooey.com

Awww…….reminds me of Flintstones. Although far from it. The interiors were warm, fun and chocolatee. I think they have one of those aroma fans because the moment we stepped this side of the mall, the chocolate aroma winked and beckoned at us. This time, I wanted something challenging. I ordered, Chilli chocolate. It looks like your regular hot chocolate drink. Only this has a sprinkle of chilli powder. When you first taste this, it is sweet, just when you start to think – “Hey this is supposed to be Chilli chocolate”, the chilli hits your throat. It doesn’t hurt you or sting or burn, but it felt more like an adventure in a cup. Take a swig folks if you can handle the heat 😉

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You come back after a long tiring day at work sapped of energy, too tired to even think of what’s going to be on tonight’s menu.  The one thing you need is something that can give you a fresh lease of energy and quickly at that.

Orange juice with Mint

I don’t have anything jazzy to suggest. But trust me this is old-fashioned and works wonders for me.

I am talking about our plain old Orange Juice.  Just cut up  2 juicy oranges and squeeze fresh juice. Tear up some mint leaves, add to the orange juice and Sip…..!! Ahhhh, that cool sweet and tangy liquid with just a hint of the minty freshness works magic, zips through your system with zest and sends an instant charge of energy. And its good for you too unlike the good for nothing caffeinated  energy drinks.

Nothing can beat that freshness and I tell you, you will feel as good as new after that shot.  Believe me! And that’s what I call refreshing!!!

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Palette

Each individual has their own form of outlet to de-clutter their minds and life.  Am sure you can relate to it when I say, there comes a few times in our lives where too many things are on our plate and our life becomes chaotic. It sometimes get to the point that there is just too much to worry about, nothing ever goes  right, everything needs to be done and yet nothing gets done et al. And amidst this sea of chaos, we reach our boiling points and may erupt anytime now, while all we want to do is go screaming out that front door like a banshee.

Having been there a few times myself, I have learnt to recognise the signs, and I immediately grab my saviour which comes in the form of  my trusty old paint brush.

Painting is one of my lesser known passions. I often resort to painting whenever I am a bundle of emotions or feel cluttered. I don’t know what it is about colours, but it has the power to soothe, provoke, create, open and brighten my mind. There is something about lavishing paint on plain white paper/canvas. The action of stroking paint onto paper is so therapeutic. The play of colours have a magical impact on my mind. The medley of colours, the shapes and shadows and light taking on their own meaning, yet they can be interpreted in a thousand different ways by each individual. Such is the beauty of “Art”.

Picture of painting taken in Queensland Art Gallery

Picture of painting taken in Queensland Art Gallery

‘Abstracts’ are what comes to me naturally. Am one of those people who just cannot paint a portrait to save my life. But they intrigue me. The play of emotions, expressions, shadows on the faces, the wrinkles, the laughter lines etc to name a few are so interesting and different on each subject.

Just the other day, I was talking to my mom, I was telling her that I just can’t do portraits at all and wished that I could. Her words were -“Not everyone can do abstract. You should count yourself lucky that you are able to imagine something and put it down on paper”. And I felt good about it afterwards. And I thought that I may as well work with what I have rather than  depict something that is not me.

Picture taken in Queensland Art Gallery

In conclusion, I find that painting helps me feel better, the colours brighten up my mood, and when I do my brush strokes, it lets me ponder on the various things on my mind, helps me slow things down and tackle things one by one. Life can be so overwhelming when everything comes at you the same time, but painting surely does help by providing a form of distraction and reprieve to the mind when the going gets tough.

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Zumba - Ditch the Workout & Join the Party

There I was, trudging along without any previous knowledge of what on earth Zumba was……Until one day…

Scene – Lunch room at work. Am watching the instant noodles bubble away in the microwave which was my boring-out-of-ideas on what to bring for lunch answer. Couple of my colleagues having their lunches in the room. Then suddenly the door swings open loudly and erupts into the lunch room is a colleague of mine, a mom of 2 kids who makes a beeline to one of my colleagues having lunch who never has to watch what she eats. The mother of 2 started discussing something excitedly. I could just make out the words “Awesome”, “Toning sticks”, “Can feel it”, “Energetic”,”Losing weight” & “Zumba”.

My antennae magically sharpened to tune into the conversation because I heard the words “Losing weight”. I had become so pudgy, overweight and nauseous to my core that I let my weight get out of control and hating myself for that, any technique or idea that could achieve quick weight loss for me was very welcome. On top of it all, I was still so unmotivated to do anything about it.

I brought my steaming noodles to the table and sat across the two who were discussing about losing weight. And the mom of two said to the other colleague -“Hey did you order it for me yet? I am just having to rely on YouTube Zumba videos to get me through.” There it was that word again -“Zumba”. My mind started pondering on what that word was! I made the most obvious assumption relating to that topic, that it either was a diet supplement or an exercise.

And I looked at the mother of 2 and observed that she had indeed lost weight and she seemed more active actually. And I told her so. She said that she was trying out Zumba and she thought that it was working for her. I said -“Good for you”. And she told me that I ought to try it too.

I just smiled not knowing what I was agreeing to and nodded my head and still hesitated on asking what that was. I then came back home. I was flicking through the  TV channels when suddenly I saw some latin dancing advertisement. I thought it might be a dance studio or gym promoting classes and was about to change it. Then came on-screen the words flashing “ZUMBA – Ditch the workout, Join the Party”. I sat upright. I saw the infomercial about Zumba. I was intrigued. All the more because I have a passion for dancing. I had taken Salsa classes during weekdays after work once a week.

And the more I watched, the more I wanted to try. I immediately went online and found some Zumba videos on YouTube. And I tried just a couple of videos. First thing that struck me was, that I sweated profusely. In New Zealand, the climate is such you don’t sweat even if you want to. And it felt different and good. Secondly, the burn out of calories was high. I have done my time at the gym back in the days, doing circuit training, a combination of cardio, weights, crunches and squats. But maybe after 1 hour of that I could get the amount of burn factor. But these 2 videos put together was just for 16 minutes. And I thought to myself, “WOW”, the same amount of sweat but in a shorter time but with more intensity. I thought could this be the answer to my prayers. And that too in this day and age, with barely any extra time to catch up on the ever-growing To-Do list, this would be perfect for a quick work out.

Zumba burns a higher amount of calories quickly than any other work out form and in a short time. Doing Zumba  works up a good sweat and enhances your mood, because the song selections are so upbeat and trendy. It is energy-boosting and makes us flexible. I noticed that after few days of Zumba, that bending down to pick something up was never an issue. And I was shocked to realise that I had been struggling to bend over and pick things up and I had not even paid attention to that fact. On top of all of this, you will be using muscles that you haven’t used in a long time, and use muscles you didn’t know existed in the first place.

Today, though I don’t do Zumba everyday, I do it once in a while to improve my mood and if I felt like dancing or flexing. The original Zumba package by Beto teaches a variety of dance moves including the likes of Belly Dancing and Flamenco. So if you are looking at spicing up your body and becoming more flexible,  and true to its tagline Ditch the Workout and Join the Party, Zumba is the way to go!!!

Afternote – Below are the 2 links for the Zumba videos that I used at home. But for those if you are hooked into it, I would recommend you buy the original package. This includes targeted exercises for Abs, Glutes, Cardio, Express Workout for 20 minutes and so on.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vf0q6qtThF4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tm7DyRjtWRc

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Have you ever heard a song that is close to your heart, means something to you, reminds you of special memories, or  you can associate yourself with, or a song that is a reflection of the state of your mind?

Back in my teens I thought that my Heart Song was “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion like every love-struck teenager smitten by the poignant poetry of love shown in Titanic.

But after some serious soul – searching, I have chosen a song that tells me my present state of mind and how I am currently viewing my life. I can relate to it so well, it feels like the lyricist pulled those thread of words right from my mind and wove it into this beautiful song. The message is Simple yet real! It clearly delivers the message that, back when you were a child and were young, life was bliss with no worries lines marking your forehead or deep drooping brackets on the sides of your mouth. You wanted something, you went after it until you got it.

And when you grow up, it is so different. We let other people tell us what to do, we are answerable to other people, we let other people influence our decisions and life, we let other people walk all over us. But I am not one to shirk responsibility on matters that are important and I do draw my line when people  are about to step on my toes.

I just feel I was more resilient back when I was young. I used to take the world by its horns and drive it to where I wanted. Yet now, I can’t help but feel powerless and its a struggle trying to recapture the magic of my childhood.

Gosh! I almost sound like I am about to write a book of sentiments and a sequel to Peter Pan about never wanting to grow up.

If you haven’t already found your song, here’s wishing you specially to find that unique heartsong. And I know you’ll wonder…….!!!

Here’s the link to “My Heart song” , Chris Isaak’s – Now I Wonder.

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/2895516/i_wonder/

Lyrics – Now I Wonder

When I was younger I believed, that dreams came true.
Now I wonder.
Cause’ I’ ve seen much more dark skies, than blue.
Now I wonder.
I keep on praying for a blue sky, I keep on searching through the rain.
I keep on thinking of the good times, will they ever come again?
Now I wonder.
Now I wonder.
When I was younger I believed, that I could win.
Now I wonder.
There was a time when you and I, walked hand in hand
Now I wonder.
I keep on searching for the old me, I keep on thinking I can change.
I keep on hoping for a new day, will I ever feel the same
Now I wonder.
Oh I wonder.
Now I wonder.

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……………….. You of course thought that now there’s an angle that’s unusual for seduction!!!

And I am as usual talking about something  else. Well this time it’s a Cocktail recipe called Salty Seduction. This was the first ever cocktail recipe that I tried and it sure was pink, tangy and enjoyable.

Do try it and let me know if you liked it.

Absolut Vodka

Ingredients:

45 ml Vodka

Grapefruit Juice

Splash of Lemon Juice

Ice cubes

Salt

Directions:

Run the lip of a cocktail glass with lemon juice and dip in the salt to coat. Fill glass with ice and vodka. Top with grapefruit juice. And Voila………………Enjoy!

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Picture this! You are invited to a photo gallery showing. The photographer’s specialty is nature at its best. The colours and shades of each leaf, tree or animal is captured with such life, it feels almost real.

The water drop hanging off the edge a leaf could taste of the freshest rain. The shades of green are so many in number that it cannot be captured and contained in a bottle of paint.The moistness of the wind can be seen glistening on a birds feathers. The curves and shadows of the ferns beckon people to take a closer look at their secrets.

You go on a long drive, you come across so many farms, with unending lush green acres sporting post and rail fences made of solid tree branches with the sheep and horses lazing under the sheer blue sky. Has anyone ever noticed how blue skies and green grass goes so well together like a match made in heaven? And to add to the alluring charm these farms have such long dreamy driveways lined with such tall trees that it gives the feeling of being in the midst of a glade.

Golden sand and black sand beaches compete to get their share of the sea with a blue that uniquely belongs there. And the views from atop the ranges are breathtakingly beautiful. You can just sit for endless moments, gaze into the distance, do some soul-searching or be mindlessly numb taking in the beauty of the world below, losing track of time.

If you think this is beautiful and belongs within the sterile pages of a photo album or a gallery, you are wrong, I just described a sample of the beauty surrounding my life. You have got to come and experience it to believe it. Its way better than the views in that of your postcards, photos and books.

I can tell you quite honestly, no exaggeration at all, I have lived here in New Zealand for almost 3 years and the beauty surrounding me is a balm for tired eyes and minds. It just calms you down and soothes you after a long tiring day at work.

The blue beaches that I mentioned of is such a unique blue that we are yet to find a synonym to describe this brand of blue. Maybe I should name it the “kiwi blue”! What say??!!

Lonely sail at Waitangi

Even if you are the world’s worst photographer, you can never go wrong because each frame will turn out perfect no matter what.

New Zealand is so beautiful, that you don’t need postcards, pictures and paintings of beautiful sceneries hanging off your walls. You will be living in a postcard haven with backdrops of these postcards only life-size. “Haere Mae”! Come and experience New Zealand!

*Haere Mae-means welcome in Maori

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